Is The Cancel Culture Movement Stifling Our Freedom Of Speech And Expression?

“So, a mistake is made, a word is spoken out of turn, a cultural norm is broken, and all is fair in the pursuit of canceling this person, erasing them off the face of the earth, banishing them to a world of shame and regret.” ― Aysha Taryam, editor in chief of gulf today news. The cancel culture movement is stifling our freedom of speech and expression because it creates the fear of expressing opinions because of the risk of getting canceled and it forces people to have or appear to have the same opinion with the majority in which they might disagree and it also cultivates a platform for spreading hate and Judgement that really affects people lives.

The cancel culture movement has affected the way people are looking at free speech. Some people believe it does not stifle our freedom of speech and only creates a form of holding people accountable while some believe it does stifle our freedom of speech and expression by creating fear and discouraging diverse opinions. Cancel culture has existed for a long time but the use of social media has boosted its use and made it a large part of society now. The massive use of the movement by people on social media and how people respond to it has brought us up to talking about whether or not the movement is affecting our freedom of speech.

I believe that “cancel culture” does restrain our freedom of speech and expression because the movement allows people to shun ideas and opinions unfamiliar to them and this will cause those with diverse opinions to keep their opinions to themselves even though further inspection would show that their opinion could be correct or helpful. Some public figures believe that cancel culture does stifle our freedom of speech and expression. They believe this because they are victims of the movement because they expressed opinions that society did or does not agree with and it, directly and indirectly, affects their lives in different ways. Many public figures have been canceled for minor things like what society describes as controversial tweets, social media posts, or behaviors and even for expressing their opinion, and because of this they have been constantly harassed and sent hate messages. Like popular female rapper, Cardi B who was being canceled for shielding her daughter from her profanity-filled songs. Writers and Journalists also believe that cancel culture is stifling our freedom of speech and expression because a lot of their articles and publications are being criticized for having different opinions. New York Times publisher Weiss resigned from the Times after being criticized on social media. On 7 July, Harper’s magazine published an open letter, reportedly spearheaded by the author Thomas Chatterton Williams; Weiss was among the 153 signatories, many of whom were high-profile journalists, academics, and writers, The letter argued that the culture we have established limited a free exchange of information especially in publishing houses and news agencies.

Although the negatives, cancel culture does give a voice to the voiceless and creates a platform to hold people accountable for their actions. Some Activists and public figures believe that cancel culture does not stifle our freedom of speech and expression because of the platform of accountability it has created and the voice it gives to the voiceless. Loretta Ross a self-declared liberal activist said this “From my point of view, for black culture and cultures of people who are lower-income and disenfranchised, this is the first time you do have a voice in those types of conversations.” Yes, I agree, cancel culture does provide a voice to the voiceless but it does this how? By taking away the voice of those who already had or have it. As a society, if we need to strip freedom of speech from others to give it to people who feel they don’t have it what does that say about us? Stealing from the rich to give to the poor is not a justification for stealing; it is still stealing nonetheless.

Cancel culture stifles our freedom of speech and expression It creates fear of expressing opinions and ideas that are not the societal norm. Writer Bari Weiss had to retire after publishing a controversial article and after that many other writers have expressed a lack of creative freedom in the journalism and publishing industry. Writers being afraid of losing their jobs because of expressing their opinions does not reflect the freedom of speech that they should have. Cancel culture creates a negative environment and creates justification for hate. Public Figures who have been “canceled’’ have seen an increase in hate messages sent to them and some have been harassed and publicly insulted or had members of their families harassed and insulted. Cancel culture makes those hate messages and harassment seem justified because after all they said or did something controversial right?

If Cancel culture persists we will start to despise ourselves in society, every mistake we make will be brought out to social media to be publicly criticized and ridiculed. The mental health of our generation will continue to degrade if we do not let people grow from their mistakes and express their different opinions. If there is no room for discussion of diverse opinions or ideas what can be said about the society we live in? If public discussion becomes a thing of the past we might as well revert to the days before civilization.

Adefemi Abimbola


Amateur writer

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